Does helicopter parenting lead to financially dependent kids?

Does helicopter parenting lead to financially dependent kids?

Every parent I know can’t stop gabbing about Amy Chua’s new book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother.

I love when a book is the thing we’re all talking about, rather than who was worst-dressed at the Golden Globes! And this discussion is particularly interesting to me—both as a mom of three kids and as a personal finance commentator.

In Chua’s book, which is excerpted in The Wall Street Journal, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” she exalts the strict parenting style stereotypical of Chinese culture—no play-dates, no sleepovers, and no grades lower than A—over the nurturing parenting style characteristic of Western society.

In my opinion, this isn’t about east vs. west, but about the current practice in any culture of helicopter parenting—the practice of hovering so close to your children’s lives that they lose the autonomy to think for themselves.

And, largely, this comes down to whether parents are willing to let their kids fail. Struggles are a big part of shaping kids into the adults they’ll become. And Helicopter Moms sometimes need to let their children quit, or fail, or even just make a decision for themselves—otherwise, how will they learn how to problem-solve and thrive despite a few setbacks?

The ability to overcome failure is especially critical right now, as 20-somethings are facing a lousy job market and record levels of unemployment, with 80% of 2009 graduates moving back home with their parents. In this economy, even Einstein would have felt like a loser. And if parents drilled a “success only” mentality into their kids from day one, it’s going to be pretty hard for them to adjust to the new reality—and learn how to prosper regardless.

Do you think over-parenting affects a child’s financial independence?

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